Studies upon studies have all shown that garnering reviews is absolutely necessary for young businesses to foster healthy growth. Yet with so many different review sites offering customers the chance to leave their opinions about businesses, the task of unifying and even navigating such sites is an extremely daunting challenge, worthy of those found in ancient Green legends.
Fear not, though. While different, these sites have very similar through lines that make unification extremely easy. All it takes is understanding the components that are necessary across all review sites.
Review sites are simply specialized social media platforms. Because of this, you will always have a profile identifying who and what you are as a business entity. Luckily, profiles typically follow a standard pattern.
Business Name & Information
This is as straightforward as it sounds. Clients need information about the business so they know that they’re reviewing the correct one. It’s always a way interested parties on the site can contact you. For this reason alone, you need to make sure your information is always accurate and up to date. As for the type of information, this will vary depending on how in depth the review site is. In general, expect to include the business name, address, phone number, email and website. Other bits of information may include hours of operation, directions, description and policies.
For virtually all review sites, there are two images required – a small profile image and a larger banner image. These typically fit together on each company’s individual page. This then means that these images will need to be slightly different. Your smaller profile image will be extremely limited in scope, therefore it will need to be easily recognized with only a glance. Most companies opt for a simplified version of their logo, maybe a single letter or picture associated with the business. As for the banner, this is often required to be a high resolution image that is at least 720 pixels wide. With so much virtual real estate here, the code of conduct in regards to what to put really depends on who you ask. Some places use a nice image of their store interior while others use fancier logo designs. What you choose to do depends on the look and feel you’re trying to achieve. The only requirement is that these have to be uniform across all of your profiles, review sites or not.
Again, reviews are almost universally formatted across all review sites, no matter if they use tomatoes or stars to assign rank.
This is identifying information set up so that other reviewers can determine if this individual’s reviews are accurate and trustworthy. It typically involves a user name, user profile picture and how active they are on the review site. In general, it’s not data you need to be concerned with unless you feel you need to build a case against someone slandering your business. But, for people reading the review sites, they do want to know that the site has taken to the time to vet the person to know that they are an actual person (preferably a confirmed customer) leaving the review and not someone hired/paid to leave a review.
The rating is featured prominently as it is the visual that users expect to be able to see and immediately understand the information it contains. Because of this, it will be laid out from left to right with the lowest score to the left and the highest to the right. Visually this fills up with color, acting as a meter of rank. Some change this color based on rating. Some use stars, some use squares, some use tomatoes. No matter the medium, the visual is common enough visitors don’t have to learn to decipher it. In addition, these also are featured right next to the date the rating was posted. Apart from helping keep the reviews in chronological order, it helps visitors determine if the reviews are actually worth reading.
Reviews are the most important bits of user-generated information your young company can pay attention to. They detail why the reviewer gave you a certain rank, highlighting both pros and cons. As these reviews can also be given anonymously, many tend to be extremely honest takes on your business, information that is essential for any young company looking to expand. Just remember to look at these wisely as not all critics give good critiques. One negative review might simply be a person venting their life frustrations at your store because they had to wait in line a bit longer than expected. However, many reviews that point out the same flaw are an indication that something definitely needs to be fixed.
The best thing you can pull away from these reviews is customer service. Most major review sites allow you to respond to customer reviews and complaints directly. In fact, most major companies have systems in place where they are sure to respond in less than 24 hours. While your startup probably doesn’t have the manpower to do that much work, you do have the ability to build a public display of professionalism and respect within the community. By addressing complainers in public and as soon as is possible, you are appealing to more than just the upset party. You are showing all visitors to the review site that you do pay attention to concerns and you do what you can to right any wrongs.
When used properly, review sites are a powerful tool to help turn your budding business into a local powerhouse. Unifying your profiles and tending the reviews will help it and your word of mouth recommendations grow.